Catching up with the Chorley Myplace group

Amy Lewis

We all know that life has been anything but normal over the last few months and all, including us here at Myplace, have had to adapt to new ways of life.

We sat down and had a chat with some of the Participants from our Chorley Myplace Hub – some who have experienced the outdoor sessions and some who started as lockdown began – to find out how they felt about the changes to Myplace over the last few months.

We had to pause our outdoor Myplace sessions due to lockdown and we have since moved our sessions online. How have you felt about that?

“Quite a lot of us don’t “do” computers, so to be told we have to go virtual on Myplace, especially for those who were previously on outdoor sessions, it was quite a worry losing the weekly, normal routine that keeps you smiling – the one thing, or couple of things, that keep you going, one of which was Myplace. 

Knowing that it was going virtual and having to sit in front of a computer screen made me feel even more anxious than dealing with people in real life.  But a good point to it is that, on days where I don’t feel like getting up or ready, you can just turn your camera off but can still chat and be connected with other people, still giving you that boost in a week.”

“I was pre-occupied with the virus, but find the sessions really good and really helpful.  It gives a structure to the week.  It’s something to look forward to and I like seeing everybody.”

Nature walk taken by participant

Nature walk taken by participant

Reflecting back on when lockdown first began, the Participants expressed their feelings; these ranged from feelings of disbelief and uncertainty to feelings of loss of those usual commitments, routines and connections that help to protect and promote positive mental health and wellbeing.  

With those feelings in mind, have the virtual Myplace sessions had any impact on your mental health and wellbeing?

“I’ve missed other outdoor opportunities.  Even though I’ve been able to go out on my own, I’m missing the physical interaction with others.  But it’s great doing these [online sessions], I definitely come away from them feeling a lot better than beforehand – that’s the main thing.”

“It’s all positive impacts.  If we didn’t have this, I think a lot of us would be a lot more lonely than we are because of our mental health.  You don’t sometimes feel like you want to join the session but once you’ve joined the session, after it, you do feel like you want to do something.  Like you want to go for a walk, or look at the birds, or do whatever task we’ve done. It is a positive effect. You learn something new every week”

“I’ve missed the session when I’m unable to attend.  It’s good to join in and catch up with everybody.  I come away feeling positive.  We’re a great bunch of people and we all get along. I feel comfortable speaking with any of the group. So yeah, it’s a good thing.”

Growing from kitchen scraps taken by participant

Growing from kitchen scraps taken by participant

Moving from outdoor sessions to online sessions has meant we’ve had to get creative here at Myplace.  We’ve had to adapt our sessions from getting out and about within our hubs, to staying very local and focusing on activities that can be done from home with materials that are really easy to get hold of.

Having moved from the hub to the home, have the Myplace sessions helped you feel more connected to nature or other people?

“The activities give you something to do on session, or to do or carry on with at home.  Some, like the bird nesting material holder, you can put outside and watch to see what nature comes.  You can watch them all week and it keeps you busy, not just on the day of the session.  You can carry on through the week, that’s what’s great about the sessions.”

“I’m still doing the eco-bricks.  I’m astonished at how much you can recycle into them.  It’s halved the amount of plastic rubbish being thrown out each week, showing how much people just throw away.”

“I love it. It gives you new skills to continue doing what you want, for however long you want, over the rest of the week… Rest of the year!”

“Although the sessions have changed to fit the lockdown, it has kept everyone going and doing something.  The sessions, and connecting with nature, have helped my confidence and, even though we’re not outside, it’s having the same effect.”

“To share your knowledge with other people, it gives you something different to talk about and it’s amazing that nature can connect everyone on that level.”

“Nature definitely does bring people together more.  We need to appreciate what we have. Our surroundings. Just looking after the planet generally.  Lockdown has given people time to reflect on things like that as well.”

Bird nesting material taken by participant

Bird nesting material taken by participant

We all miss getting outdoors, meeting with each other, connecting with nature and working on activities within our hubs, but we try to look to the positives.

Have you found any positives with the virtual Myplace sessions? And have the virtual Myplace sessions had any impact on your lockdown experiences?

“I think half of the things [we did on outdoor sessions], I’d probably have come home and gone ‘yeah, I want to do that’ but then not actually gone ahead and done it, but because we’ve been restricted, because of the lockdown, I probably pursued things a lot more.”

“When I look out of the window, I do look a lot more for wildlife now, and I tend to stay and look a lot more than I would have done.  Rather than just doing the washing up and walking away, now I kind of look out of the window and see and watch the birds and listen to their tunes and try to recognise them – although it is hard!”

“Always positive, always good… Leaves you wanting more.”

“Really enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them – can’t wait to get out on site and meet them in person!”

Take a look at what else our Chorley group have been up to during lockdown!

Could Myplace support you or someone you know?

If you are struggling, we can help.

In light of the current COVID-19 situation and social distancing measures we have developed free, online ecotherapy sessions for anyone aged 16 or over.

Our Myplace project has been running successfully since 2016 and since that time we have supported over 1000 people to live healthier, happier lives through regular contact with nature. Let us bring nature to you.

Find out more or sign-up to our online sessions today.

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